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Ewer: M/P.10-1938

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 32 (Rothschild)




Silversmith: Unidentified




Silver-gilt, embossed, and chased, with cast handle. The sides are decorated with four oval medallions framed and linked by strapwork, each enclosing an allegorical figure of one of the virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity (the theological virtues), and Fortitude (one of the cardinal virtues). Between the medallions, and on the neck are grotesque masks, fruit, nude figures, sea monsters, and water fowl. The shoulder and the lowest part of the bowl are encircled by gadrooning. The handle is in the form of two serpents issuing from a cornucopia. The ewer is accompanied by a wooden box (A) with two brass handles, two half-lids hinged with catches, and lining of red velvet, locking with a key (B)

Legal notes

L.D. Cunliffe Bequest, 1937

Measurements and weight

Height: 29.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Paris ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1938-03) by Cunliffe, Leonard Daneham


16th Century, Late
Circa 1585 - 1586


Label text from the exhibition ‘Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800’, on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from 26 November 2019 until 31 August 2020:This ewer is decorated with four oval medallions containing female personifications of Faith, Hope, and Charity (the three Theological Virtues) and Fortitude (one of the four Cardinal Virtues). They were presumably included as moral exemplars to diners and intended to provoke ‘virtuous’ discussions. The rest of the ewer has less high-brow decoration relating, appropriately, both to water and food in the form of water-fowl and ripe fruit.

Sixteenth-century French silver is mentioned frequently in contemporary inventories, but is now extremely rare. This ewer can be attributed to Paris because it bears the warden's mark of the Paris goldsmiths' guild, which incorporates a year letter for 1585-6. Its antique form with a high handle, and eclectic decoration completely covering the surface are typical of the Mannerist style in silver. The form of the ewer, apart from the handle, is comparable to a design attributed to Etienne Delaune (1518/19-1583) in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. It may have been used at table, or have been been displayed on a tiered dressoir (buffet) with other ornate vessels.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Surface composed of gold
Box Depth 15 cm Height 35.5 cm Width 23 cm
Foot Diameter 8.2 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Raising : Silver-gilt, with embossed, and chased decoration and cast handle

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: L crowned
  • Location: On base inside the foot
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Warden's mark

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M/P.10-1938
Primary reference Number: 118321
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 17 July 2023 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Ewer" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-25 03:37:16

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{{cite web|url= |title=Ewer |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-25 03:37:16|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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